Lean Visual Management – What is it and how to get your toe in the door

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Lean management is an approach to running an enterprise that implements the concept of constant improvement. It is a long-term approach to work that systematically seeks and achieves small progressive changes in the work process in order to improve efficiency and quality. Incorporating a visual representation into the lean system brings the program to life as it follows the first lean principle of lean management, which is to directly observe the work as activities, connections, and flow. Lean visual management makes the work process easier and clearer, mainly in regards to communication. This allows for any member of the organization to directly observe the work and know what is going on. As visuals allow for the workflow to be observable, the two other principles of Lean, systematic elimination of waste and systematic problem solving becomes much more manageable to implement.

So what does an organization get from using Lean Visual Management? Visualized progressive plan and status updates benefit the factory floor/office space as the whole organization is constantly communicating items that affect planned and measured metrics. Visual management generally encourages self-ordering, self-explaining and self-improving. When a visual management device such as this gets set up it is crucial to foster an environment where everyone participates. This, in turn, moves to keep the whole organization running towards the objective. The board should be self-explanatory and answers the usual questions the staff or workforce might have in their mind such as the next step of the process. In all reality, it should take anyone, regardless of role, to diagnose and understand the organizations’ standards in 90 seconds or less. Anything more than that is simply confusing.

Here are 7 benefits of Lean Visual Management that we’ve identified as critical:

1. Visualization boards provide the immediate and simple mechanism to disseminate information within the organization.
2. Waste occurrence becomes clear as it is exposed on the Visual board so it can be eliminated or prevented repeating. This makes the workplace more effective and efficient.
3. Makes differences and abnormalities in the 4 M’s also known as Man, Machine, Material, and Method – process inputs seen straight away to be corrected or to quickly put corrective measures.
4. Visual boards enable trends in quality, safety, delivery and cost and irregularities to be seen quickly and timely preventive actions implemented.
5. Lean Visual boards prompt everyone to improve by defining key performance targets.
6. This also makes operation standards and measures easier to understand by all for everyone to follow.
7. Building cooperative participation through shared information.

If, by chance, you stopped by our blog in order to educate yourself on Visual Lean Management and were hoping to see something on how to start your process…. here are some basics on how to get a start. Remember, it is imperative to crawl before you walk.

The Lean Visual Management approach could be confusing at the beginning of implementation. Make the implementation easy by following these steps.

  • Start small with visuals, an idea board where the staff and workers can post their ideas on how to improve their work, space and process. Let them get used to the idea of their work and ideas exposed to colleagues and management.
  • Create a standard for each work process and each job. These standards are both qualitative and quantitative, such as the workspace organization, cleanliness, and widgets per hour…for example.
  • Decide on the essential measurements; remember there is an infinite number of possibilities in measuring each job and process. Establishing the essential measurements now will make it easier not to go overboard on the important measurements. Said another way, take a bite out of the elephant. Don’t choke eating the whole thing.
  • Make it POP!  Make sure you place your visuals in highly recognizable spaces that are easy to read.  Check out Ceiling Outfitters blog at this link for some great ideas.

Coming to the end of this blogfor now…Stay tuned…

Cheers!

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